Opinioned sources on Five Points- Lack of “Penance” or “Patronage”?

Jacob Riis, Five Cents Lodging, Bayard Street, c. 1889. This image depicts the conditions of many of the tenement residencies common in the Five Points neighborhood.

  • Church Monthly, March 1858, (as quoted in Monthly Record of the Five Points House of Industry 2, June 1858, pgs 34-35.

“The most notorious precinct of moral leprosy in the city, … a perfect hot-bed of physical and moral pestilence, … a hell-mouth of infamy and woe.” I could not resist highlighting this source as mixed primary/secondary source; this is a very biased radical opinion by a church periodical newspaper based upon its general views of the Five Points inhabitants, and aimed at depreciating the public view of these resident which was chosen to be quoted as a sentiment of the neighborhood in a trustworthy assessment that generally bases its information on solid fact drawn by observation.

  • Monthly Record of the Five Points House of Industry 1, June 1857, pg 70.

As I stated above, this source is primary, since its material is mostly observational facts by a team of Methodist missionaries who went first hand throughout the residences and took accounts of the conditions,  [An 1857 inspection found] “23 families-179 people in all-living in just 15 Rooms”.

  • Tom Nolan (as quoted in U. Robinson, Hot Corn, pg 70).

This a primary source, since it is quoting a first-hand narrative of a Five Point’s resident. This seems to be trustworthy, since Nolan uses extremely graphic imagery to describe the filth of his prior residence “…shoe-mouth deep of steaming filth..”.

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